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Movie Review: 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Christopher Nolan's Batman finale stutters, but it's got enough pulse-pounding action for true fans


Director: Christopher Nolan
Rating PG-13‎‎ Running Time: ‎2hr 44min
Stars: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman

En Español | The Dark Knight rises slower than a soufflé, and halfway through the Caped Crusader simply disappears from the movie for the longest time. But thanks to some truly breathtaking action scenes and a few surprisingly poignant performances, the 2 1/2-hour finale to director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy delivers pretty much everything fans have been waiting for.

Stop me if you've heard this one: A master criminal comes to Gotham City, seizes control and terrorizes the populace.

See also: Oliver Stone's Savages.

Part of the mythology of Batman has always seemed to be that Gotham is some sort of city-state that never gets any help from the outside. (Really, do you think the feds would actually stand by helplessly while the Penguin or the Joker rampaged through New York?)

To its credit,The Dark Knight Rises goes to great pains to explain just why the government is helpless in this case, but that's one of several meandering plot points that do little but add minutes to the film's running time. Likewise, an extended scene in which the super-villain, named Bane, ransacks the Gotham Stock Exchange has little to do with the story (other than to elicit impossible-to-resist Bain Capital jokes. Or is that just me?). And the whole middle section, in which Batman/Bruce Wayne is shipped off by Bane to some hole-in-the-ground prison in what appears to be Tibet, serves only to keep the star of the show out of the action while his buddies back in Gotham suffer under Bane's iron fist.


Christian Bale is Bruce Wayne in "The Dark Knight Rises." — Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

Listen, I know we're talking Batman here, but whereas the most recent incarnation of the series has always traded in the implausible, Nolan has previously been too careful a filmmaker to lapse into the utterly ridiculous. This time around, though, characters take courses of action that have no point, even from their twisted perspectives.

Mass murderer Bane (Tom Hardy) traps Gotham's entire police force in subway tunnels, but why does he go to the trouble of feeding them all to keep them alive for months? Catwoman (Anne Hathaway, filling out her leather suit very nicely, thank you) betrays Batman to Bane, dooming him to life in a hole in Tibet. So why, after he escapes and returns (somehow) to Gotham, does he just give her a crooked little "you naughty girl" smile? Then there's Batman/Bruce Wayne himself, played with expected solemnity by Christian Bale: We learn early on that he is nearly crippled by arthritis, yet he looks pretty nimble scaling the wall of that prison, a barrier that has supposedly been defeating men for centuries. Did I miss the scene where he had knee replacement surgery?

Next: Why do they put the best parts in the trailer. »

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Your Scoop on Cinema

Movies for Grownups is focused on films with distinct relevance to a 50-plus audience. In reviews, previews and interviews, we look for actors and themes that speak to the experiences of older moviegoers. Find more about us on:


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